VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Just a few hours after retired Pope Benedict XVI died in his Vatican residence Dec. 31, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, provided a few early details of what to expect in the coming days.
The 95-year-old pope’s remains will be in St. Peter’s Basilica beginning the morning of Jan. 2 for people to pay their last respects and offer their prayers, he said. The funeral Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will be in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5 starting at 9:30 a.m. Rome time.
While he did not offer precise details as to what the funeral Mass of a retired pope will look like, Bruni said that Pope Benedict wanted his funeral and related events to be carried out “in a sign of simplicity.”
Bruni also said the retired pope received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick Dec. 28, the day Pope Francis told people Pope Benedict was “very sick” and in need of prayers.
“Ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the church until the very end,” Pope Francis had said at the end of his general audience.
Before the funeral, Bruni added, all scheduled events at the Vatican were to continue as planned, such as Pope Francis’ evening celebration of vespers and the recitation of the Te Deum Dec. 31.